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January 30, 2003 letter from Darryl Roberts to Scrubs

January 30, 2003

Bill Lawrence
Executive Producer and Creator of Scrubs
c/o NBC Viewer Relations
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Dear Mr. Lawrence,

You created the television program called Scrubs, which airs on Thursday nights on NBC. My wife and I occasionally watch it for its jocular and mindless statements on the workings of hospitals. We often find it funny. However, the treatment of nurses, particularly men in nursing, in the episode aired on the Super Sized Thursday of January 30, 2003 struck me as far less than funny. I realize full well that your purpose is to provoke your viewers to giggle, laugh, and guffaw. I further realize that it is your right to put anything on the air you choose. However, it is obvious to me that you do not realize the magnitude of the current shortage of nurses in the United States. Further, you do not realize the damage that such thoughtless and juvenile treatment of those individuals who devote their lives to the care of others may have on this ancient and noble profession.

Young people have not been choosing careers in nursing as often as they once did. Part of the reason for this is the way nurses are perceived by society. This perception is due in part to shows like this that propagate your inaccurate and juvenile perspective. Young men have always found it difficult to choose such a career, and often do so after entering into another more traditionally male career. Upon becoming nurses, they often realize that they had a distorted view of what nursing means. You help distort that view.

Men make up less than six percent of the field. As such, we are minorities. Usually, we are very satisfied and happy minorities, who are doing a job that has meaning for ourselves and for the people whose lives we touch. I entered the nursing profession at the age of 25, after spending seven years as an electrician. I have never once looked back. Further, I have never once felt ashamed or embarrassed by what I do for my living and my career. In fact I view it with pride.
After spending more than a dozen years in this profession, I now have the privilege of teaching at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. As an instructor there, I teach women and men how to be nurses. They come to our school wanting to become members of a dignified and respected profession. We encourage them and teach them why they have every right to feel proud of their career choice.

Shows like Scrubs depict a nurse in the form of Ricky Schroeder who dates a female doctor. This doctor is then ridiculed for choosing to be with a man who is a member of a “woman’s job”. Not only is this not accurate in 2003, but such depictions do nothing more than spit in the eye of millions of nurses, both men and women.

I am not asking for an apology. It would mean nothing to me if you offered it. I am merely asking you to use some measure of decency and good sense when making fun of the career choice made by thousands of men whose goal is to improve the lives of the people, families, and communities under their care.


Darryl W. Roberts, MS, RN
Clinical Instructor
University of Maryland School of Nursing
Department of Education, Administration, Health Policy, and Informatics
655 W. Lombard Street, Suite 475-A
Baltimore, MD 21201